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From one of her 'dragon rider' books...

Gratitude is like an ill-fitting tunic.  It begins to chafe and smell if worn for too long.


Word Play / From 1972: A song about Erectile Dysfunction?
« on: July 02, 2022, 05:40:05 PM »
It's true.  The 'glam rock'  group Sweet.

Listen to this track, and when they hit the chorus you'll see what I mean.


   Definitely My Grandaughter ;-)

   It's a question of priorities...

   Last week she brought her bicycle over and left it for me to fix.  Said she didn't mind if it took a week or two if I had to buy any new parts.  A problem with the front brake.  I fixed it before this week's visit and she rode it around the block a few times to test it.  One happy child.  The plan was they would take it home in the car.

   This week was also her birthday.  I got her a couple of books she really wanted, and planned to add a ream of paper, (500 sheets), for drawing and writing, and making the occasional paper aeroplane.  But I forgot to buy it when I was in town yesterday.  (One of those dash around between two buses and get the hell back out days.)

   This evening, just before they left to go home, I suggested they run me around to the CO-OP, where I could buy her the paper, and then I'd walk home.

   That met with rapturous smiles, until  the problem arose.  With the bike in the back of the car and the seats folded down, Alma would have to ride in the front.  No room for Grandad.

   "Never mind, Pet.  You can pick up your paper next week."

   She pondered this for a few seconds, clearly torn.

   "Could you look after my bicycle until my next visit?  That way you can buy the paper today and I can take it home with me."

   "Are you sure?"

   "Absolutely.  I need my paper."

   My Granddaughter, like the old man, clearly doesn't embrace the concept of a 'paperless world'.

   Her bicycle is still leaned against mine in my living room ;-)


The Bar & Grill / Solstice Greetings from the old Hedge Druid
« on: June 21, 2022, 08:25:55 AM »
   Solstice Greetings (2022) from the old 'Hedge Druid'.

   Having totally lost my place in the calendar this year it wasn't until late last night I realised that today would be the Summer Solstice.

   Bummer ;-(

   With trains being unreliable and no forward planning at all this year I decided to stay at home instead of scrambling to visit Stonehenge.  Plus, Post Covid,  I'm still not too comfortable with the idea of mingling in a large crowd.

   The day dawned bright, clear, and pleasantly cool at 04-49, as I conducted my own little private ceremony out in my back garden, in the shelter of my trees and surrounded by a gentle dawn chorus.

   I spoke to the ancient gods, and the rising sun, and as always they listened to me with a reassuring silence and didn't tell me to stop bothering them.

   I'm sure that up at the stones there was drumming, and horn blowing, and banner waving, and a fairly decent gathering of the faithful and the merely curious,  And probably a few who were very curious indeed.

   As someone once said, "Where else but the Stonehenge Solstice would you see an otherwise naked man in a hat and cowboy boots, and a man wearing a white dress, giving each other a high five in passing?"

    And doubtless far too many sad tossers taking selfies to 'prove they were there', holding their phones up in front of them like true Nuremberg Fodder, mindlessly saluting their electronic Fuehrer.

         I have photos from previous years when there wasn't a phone in sight, just people watching the sun rise as a silvery pre-dawn sky turned to gold.   I shall check out the local Wiltshire news later, to see what the official verdict is.

   Meanwhile, here's a  photos from 2009.  A nameless girl, dancing to a tune only she can hear, oblivious to the crowd.  She looked rather startled when she stopped and realised she was not alone.

         Left click to enlarge.

The Bar & Grill / Note from Deb.
« on: June 18, 2022, 04:47:34 AM »
Just had a mail from Deb.  She asked me to 'Say hello to the gang'.

The poor lass is in her sixth day of Covid19.  Has had the fevers and chills etc, 'like really bad flu', but is 'doing okay.'


The Bar & Grill / Too Damned Hot.
« on: June 18, 2022, 04:42:07 AM »
Wide awake at 4 AM.  Wandered into my office and switched on the computer.

It's already 80 degrees F in here, before the sun comes up.  Would have been like a damned sauna if I'd not turned the machine off last night.  This is just not English weather.

Yesterday I braved the heat and ambled around downtown.  Glad I did it then.  Today looks like being a no-go for the beleaguered Old Polar Bear.  My eldest lass made me smile.  She said yesterday was too damned hot for comfort indoors, so she and my Grandaughter went for a drive around  in the car because it was cooler in there with the air-con running.  There was a legitimate reason for the journey as well, but she said it was 'lovely' and that going back indoors afterwards felt like walking into an oven.

Today will probably be a good day for doing 'not much at all'.  But for now I will have an early breakfast with the French windows open and birdsong coming in from outside, before the motorway noises really kick in.

Time to break out the fan ;-)

I will also get the milk in off the step and into the fridge before it gets a chance to 'turn'.

"Hey Ho!"


Poet's Corner / Art Students, and a Passing Writer.
« on: June 17, 2022, 10:25:37 PM »
   Design and Media

   I wandered through a rarely visited part of town today, on the way to looking for an old friend I've not seen in the best part of forty years.  But she owned her own house, so there was a fair chance she'd still be there, or perhaps her children would have inherited/moved in.

   Nobody was home, and with my jacket left at home because of the heat, I was - most unusually - without anything to let me leave a note with a phone number or email address.  That jacket is a mobile filing system ;-)

   But never mind, I'll try again later.

   The funny thing was walking past the now grandly titled College of Art, Design, and Media Studies.  I remember when it was just a run down annexe to the community college.  Now it's a whole cluster of modern buildings.

   The students were just going back in after the lunch break  Some things never change...


Art Students

They still look the same,
despite the generations passing.

Skinny girls in long slinky dresses,
worn with chunky hand-painted boots,
or short shorts, cropped tops,
decorated with fabric paint,
or silky embroidery,
and those fragile 'kitten' slippers.

No bare feet though.
Modern pavements have killed that.

Long flowing red locks,
a battered Van Gogh hat,
She's old enough to be a lecturer.
Has the body language of instruction,
talking to a rapt younger girl.
Emaciated arms like an opium smoker,
but the searching alert eyes of an artist.

She pauses her conversation briefly,
long enough to scan passing 'Cammo Man',
and perhaps file something for later.
Just as I did with her.
Two silent snapshots.

Then, around the corner,
a different face of the same coin.

A strapping great wench,
taller than me,
striding with serious intent.
Deliberately holed black fishnet tights,
acres of flesh below a short skirt.
All in ragged matte black.
Her hair a skull-contouring buzz-cut,
with a narrow 'Stealth Mohican'
barely an eighth long.

A 'Steam Punk' Aura ;-)
She looks as if her chosen tools
would be an angle grinder,
a pile of rusted scrap,
and a welding torch.

Then, fifty yards further on,
the everyday world,
of take-aways, banks,
corner shops, and normality
closes in again.


The Bar & Grill / Spammer? Have you ever wondered what moderators do?
« on: June 16, 2022, 12:06:15 AM »
Am I being unduly cynical in thinking this was a spam message? This is largely a rhetorical question, but feel free to comment if you want.

See below

I have removed the link so it's definitely safe.

I love the fact that is openly described as a high risk payment processor.

The fact they only ask for $10 is a neat touch.  But if 1000 people signed up that would be 'a nice little tickle' wouldn't it?

There was a second posting - also deleted - assuring readers that it wasn't a scam, ostensibly from a different person.  So far I've seen four names connected with this and two locations.  Czechoslovakia and the Netherlands.


Hey, we are looking to get your thoughts on what you like and don't
like about cycopay, our high risk payment processing platform. We're
in beta right now
Next 50 people who sign up get 10$ upon signup.
You can do whatever you'd like with it (including sending it or
withdrawing it to PayPal or your card or bank), we would appreciate
your feedback when it comes to our product!
The link is Removed ;-) for sign up
You can send us a blank email at contact at cycopay dot com and you'll
receive a sign up link or you can sign up
or you can send us a blank email at contact at cycopay dot com
10$ for the next 50 people who sign up on our high risk payment


The Bar & Grill / A gentle little tune for retired writers.
« on: June 15, 2022, 03:44:45 PM »
Donovan's Retired Writer In The Sun

The Bar & Grill / Reflective Evening. Late night music on headphones.
« on: June 14, 2022, 01:34:24 AM »
Gyppo ambles into the bar and the jukebox, shaking the dust off its electrons, kicks into life with a couple of reflective tunes to suit his mood.  And Bones, jerked awake to serve a couple of bottles of Cobra Non-A, wonders what has triggered this visit.

"Just time and place, Bones.  No specific reason."

Sand and foam.  Donovan

Try for the sun.  Donovan.

For some reason tonight I'm  remembering a girl with long black hair and a white dress, who stepped out of a Rolls Royce in a little hamlet along the Devon coastline.  With a bedroll and a capacious woven bag.  She'd thumbed a lift from near Exeter and the first person she met, as that classy door closed silently behind her and the Roller purred away, was a dusty and somewhat ragged traveller, sat on the seawall.

She checked she was in the right place, (she was), introduced herself as Alison, and told me she was there to meet her boyfriend, but the hitch-hiking gods had smiled upon her and she was two hours ahead of their planned meeting.

I offered her a drink in the welcoming cool of the harbour pub and she accepted.

She was full of how the Rolls had stopped and a 'elderly gentleman with a scarf' had offered her a ride.  We swapped hitcher stories and she told me how her boyfriend had a job at the  nearby caravan site and a house to live in for the summer.  Then I sloped off back to my tent when she started looking nervously at the pub door.

That evening I was in the pub again, and so was she.  I chose not to speak to her when I saw a blocky chap, with broad shoulders straining his T-shirt, who seemed to be joined to her at the hip.

But after quarter of an hour or so he came over and offered me a pint for looking after his girl.   A strange mix of courtesy and warning.

Neither the first or last time an easy friendliness has been suspected of something more.


The Bar & Grill / A question for the Americans amongst you.
« on: June 05, 2022, 11:50:06 PM »
I've been reading, and enjoying,  an American series of novels, set in Montana.

One phrase that often turns up is someone being told to "Go and piss up a rope."
Occasionally it's a more specific "Go and piss up a picket rope."  This suggests to me it's a saying originating from the years when more people had horses.

Anyone know why telling someone to 'go to hell', or to 'piss off', should be equated with pissing up a rope.  I think it's the specific direction which really puzzles me.

Genuinely curious.


    Short version:  Took the family treasure back out of the drawer for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee and was forcibly reminded of two things: a) it's old, and b) it's much bigger than my Cornish flag which I can just about fly from a seven foot pole attached to the porch.

    It will fly until dusk unless my lash up pole breaks or falls over.

    Full write up with a bit of history below...

     Left click to enlarge image


    Flying The Flag

    Today I flew my Gran's old Union Flag.  It's a little threadbare these days, but it's a home-made flag and some of the material was pretty damn thin to start with having been made during WW2 rationing.  Some of it is dyed cheesecloth.

    This flag was flown for VE Day, VJ day, and countless other patriotic and Royal occasions since.  Yes, that's right, this particular flag was first flown when we still had a King on the throne.  Before young Princess Elizabeth became our Monarch.

    At ten feet long by six feet deep Gran normally used it as a 'balcony flag', stretched from window to window across the front of her house.  This doesn't really work in my modest little bungalow, though we did hang it occasionally at the family house.

    My lash-up flagpole, consisting of two overlapping eight foot lengths of timber and a twelve foot fishing rod may well be the first time it's ever been on a pole., although I remember Gran flying it from a line stretched between her house and a tall skinny tree in her front garden when my Uncle Alan shinned up there to anchor the line.

    Just as she used to get him to hang a big Christmas Star up there with a cable running back through his bedroom window.  (Until the day it shorted out in the rain and took out the local electricity  substation at Calmore.  Half of Totton lost it's lights that night until the crew worked out where the earth leakage was occurring ;-)


    The top of my flagpole is a little too bendy for the flag to fly properly,  I'm also told it's 'disrespectful' to fly a 'tattered flag', but I call bullshit on that one.  Tattered and bullet-holed battle standards are highly prized despite their condition, and so is my Gran's Union Flag.

    It's the history - both national and family - and the symbolism which counts.  I shall take it down this evening, or earlier if the 'flagpole fails, carefully fold it, and tuck it away in the drawer again.


The Bar & Grill / To my fellow writers.
« on: May 31, 2022, 07:07:35 PM »
How many of you recognise yourself in this description?

'Why would anyone settle for only two personalities?  Why be binary
when you can be multi-faceted?  We writers know the advantage of
seeing the world though many different sets of eyes.  (And in this
case that's a multiple we rather than the singular 'royal we'.

Stepping back into a single skin when convention requires it is like
wearing clothes a couple of sizes too small.' 


Odd little incidents provide cues, which allow you to see what you're writing about, to be 'in the moment', rather than just remembering.  In this respect the writer is like a 'method' actor, keying into a relevant moment and all the feelings which came with it.

When I need terrified grey eyes I see, as clearly as ever, Mum's eyes when I woke her up from her occasional wartime flashback dreams.  She'd be locked into the moment, unable to wake herself properly.  Despite being awake, eyes wide open, she couldn't really see me, or her own room, just the past which had suddenly become an all encompassing 'now'.  All I could do was 'talk her down' until she fought her way back out.

After that a cup of tea and a settling down chat, and the lights left on, or the curtains shut to hide 'the bomber's moon' which sometimes triggered these episodes, and she'd tell me things she'd never have shared at any other time.  Most of which I'll never pass on, like a priest honouring the secrecy of the confessional.

But the eyes I'll share when a character needs them.

And one little funny moment.  The night when Mum, having shaken off the horrors, suddenly averted her now reality attuned eyes and said, "Maybe this would be a good time for you to put some clothes on."

Being stark bollock naked ranks low on the list of priorities when woken by the eldritch howl of terror ;-)


Whilst I was pre-occupied with writing a poem every day in April for the NAPO challenge, the prose part of my brain was taking a rest.  But the subconscious never truly sleeps.  This little idea kept niggling at me until I gave in and typed it up quickly so I could get back to the task in hand.

Not sure where it's going yet, but I've already ruled out a few things.

A question for you Ladies.  Would you trust a complete stranger to this extent?



   John was riding faster than the law allowed, 'Exercising the
Norton' late at night along the dark New Forest road between Cadnam and
Lyndhurst.  A gently rolling and open stretch, with a few minor roads
joining it at intervals, access for smaller villages and the odd 'big house'.

   He had it all to himself.

   His headlight bored a bright halogen tunnel through the night
and he was whistling the Doors 'Riders on the Storm'.  Thoroughly
enjoying his solitude, but still looking forward to getting back to

   A pale blur of movement in the roadside bushes grabbed his
attention as he flashed past.  He was braking hard as his mind caught
up with what his eyes told him.  Stopped, foot down, motor still
running, he looked back over his shoulder.

   He wasn't hallucinating.  A naked woman.  A fair-haired naked
woman.  Running frantically towards him, her mouth moving wildly.

   A dark thought crossed his mind.  If she was 'bait' for some
kind of hijack then the people behind it were in for a shock. He
unzipped his riding jacket, just in case, felt the knife harness under
his un-tucked shirt.

   Then she was close enough to hear.

   "Help me!  Please.  Don't let them catch me."

   She reached him, a fairly short wench, but still taller than
his wife.  Several bleeding scratches as if she'd run through brambles,
and bleeding feet.  Terrified grey eyes

   "Whoever you are, please take me away from here.  They're not
far behind."

   "Jump on."  He didn't hesitate, although his eyes searched the
darkness behind her.  A naked pillion with no helmet could attract
far more attention than he normally enjoyed, but he simply couldn't refuse to help a damsel in distress.   He could imagine Frances's raised eyebrow, darkly and silently questioning, hear her laugh.

   As the suspension settled down under her weight she locked her
arms around his waist, leaned in tight, and he could smell her sweat
and fear.  Clicking into gear he rode away fast.

    Being the kind of man he was, he flicked the extra little
switch on the bars which turned off the rear and number plate lights.

   He had no idea what might be happening, who or what was after
her, but why make it easy for them?  The headlight was still a bright
lance, running ahead, but the black Norton was now as anonymous as any
bike could be.  He could see no lights behind them.

   A mile further on, still alone in the darkness, he pulled
over, turned his head to speak.

   "You look a bit obvious back there.  I can't offer you a
helmet, but Frances's one-piece oversuit's in the left hand pannier. 
Might help a bit if we meet a police car."

   "No police!" She jumped off, fumbled at the catch, and then
backed away as he kicked down the stand and moved to help her.

   Terror rolled off her in waves.

    She held one arm across her breasts and the other over her
groin.  Oddly this made her look more vulnerable than she had when
completely exposed, running naked in the red glow of the rear light.

   Taking a deep breath he spoke gently, as if to a frightened
horse or dog.

   "Maid, if I was going to rape you or hurt you,  I'd have done
it by now."

   He draped the one piece coverall across the seat and stepped
back several paces.  She still hesitated so he turned his back and
heard her move forward, heard the rustle of fabric, a few pained
hisses, and then the long rasp of a zip.

   Watching the road behind them he heard a shaky but determined
voice.  "I'm ready now."

   She was a few inches taller than Frances, legs and forearms
sticking out noticeably beyond the cuffs. He straddled the Norton and
waited till she was sat behind him again.

   "Whatever your problem I can offer you sanctuary for the night."

   She stiffened and then relaxed a little  as he continued.  "My
wife will be there, and she can come out to meet you before you decide
whether or not to come in."

   She nodded once.

   "Or she can lend you some clothes and you can wander off into
the night again and do your own thing.  Your choice."

   She shook her head, tightened her arms around his waist, and
he rode on.

   It was late enough for the police to have already caught the
late night drinkers and they slipped through Lyndhurst without seeing
anyone.  A couple of miles later he unlocked the gate to his private
track, rode through, locked it behind them, and rode the bumpy quarter
mile to his home.

    A light came on in the porch, and Frances opened the door.

   John kicked down the stand, swung his left leg up and over the tank, and left his passenger sat on the bike.

   "Frances, there's someone here who needs a woman's reassuring
words before she'll come in."  He lowered his voice.  "She's naked
under the suit."

   She frowned, recognising her riding suit, then smiled.

   "It makes a change from injured animals.  You get the kettle


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